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Republic Insa: The House Of God

Welcome to The House of God


"Guys, you lookin' at the screens? We're taking off!"

"I can't see a damn thing... What kind of angle is this?"

"That's just the boosters, wait for a few seco-- oh, there!"

"Ahhhh, now that's better."

The three men were looking at a small, portable television. Around them were rusty layers of walls, several plastic and metal chairs, and what appeared to be the early formation of a bar. Outside, sirens were screaming the obvious takeoff warning.

"Is it going to stop shaking yet? I don't want the whole trip to be this way!" The shortest man shouted over the siren noise. The two others just shrugged and kept on looking at the screens.

"Leave the thing a few minutes; besides, I won't stand your complaining for the seven years to come!!"

Laughs.

The shaking stopped. The sirens went quiet. Everything had come to a halt.

"Annnnnd, it's SPACE, folks!"

The three men cheered and high-fived in joy.

"All right!" The taller one declared. "Let's get this place polished up. I want to start doing business by next Thursday!"

*     *     *     *     *

To think that The House of God was just a place for thugs and black market people was considered a sacrilege. As one of them said one day: "We may be black market guys, but at least we are refined."

It was true. I had never seen so much Raw-10 Ice in all my life. But how the heck did mom find herself in such a place?...

*     *     *     *     *

"To Pioneer II!"

"Cheers, people!"

Anyone who wasn't an android downed a shooter. Four years had passed, and The House of God was among the most popular black market and stowaway hangouts of the ship. It had stayed in business because of one simple rule: Never conduct business in The House of God. Police men found it impossible to even think about trying to catch dealers in the act. The owners were clean of all crimes. The House of God was the biggest frustration of Pioneer II's guards. So close, yet so far.

What had first started as a bar made out of rusty pieces of metal soon improved into a place where colored lights, golden plating and fancy decorations were the norm. Speakers blurted out disc after disc of hip, techno, and BEAT music. Seats were plated in gold, or had golden velvet on them. Everything spelled Rich Spoiled Kid in there, but no one cared. After all, most of the things The House of God had as furniture was black market stuff. And it was comfortable as well. The owner never got any complaints from his customers.

Soon, the crowd began to diversify, and the bar was known under a slogan mostly known to its regulars: Drinks, dollars, amor: The House of God. Maybe House of Goddess too, as one could often see a customer walking into a private cubicle with a sexy and skimpily clad newman girl. Oftentimes, she wore nothing at all, despite being in the middle of a crowd of drinkers and drunks. We all got used to it.

Televisions informed us about sports and news. Hot chases were tuned on by the owner, who was a fan of race cars. If the customers knew the escapee, they cheered for him.

It was just a normal day after normal day in The House of God.

*     *     *     *     *

"Stowaway bastards and b******, coming through!"

"Shrike!" The owner shouted to a female black and neon-green android. "Glad to see you today. Hey guys! Same old?"

"Same old!" The group said simultaneously.

Everyone sat down at a round table, next to the main bar. There, they had a good view of two television sets displaying a rather hot game of football. Back to the wall was Yndo, a rather fat ranger with black shoulder-length hair and a beard that looked more like peach fuzz than anything else. Going clockwise, there was Tamica, frustrated and jobless, an Alpha-Power addict who soon found out she just didn't have the capabilities to either fight like a normal person, or use any power techniques whatsoever. Next was Shrike "Shurikane" Naïnsev, outgoing and rather crazy android, who took pride in the fact that she was once intended as a Halloween prank, as seen by her set of sharp teeth held by a spinning buzzsaw chain. Next to her sat a shining white android hunter by the name of B-1. He was always quiet, and unnervingly stealthy despite his obvious white color. Last but not least was the old guy in command, approaching his retirement: a weapons modder known as Wisco "Danger" Robertson.

"So what's new?" The owner said.

Everyone smiled.

"Well, who's first?" Shrike nudged B-1.

The android shrugged in "Alright, alright" kind of motion, and turned to the owner, overly articulating each word.

"We. Sold. Five. Top-quality. Energy. Cylinders. To. Some. Idiot. Who. Paid. Twice. The. Normal... Price!"

"Amount?"

"Seventy-five thousand!!" Tamica announced in triumph.

"Good!" The owner replied. "You guys are just in time, since the prices have gone up. Twenty-five thousand each shooter; come on! Pay 'em up, pay 'em up!"

Everyone laughed. The owner went behind the bar to fetch the drinks.

Tamica's eyes opened wide.

"Oh yeah, oh yeah!" She screamed, pointing to something that had just passed the front doors. "Herrrrrre comes angel Gabrielle!"

"Hello, hello!" Said angel spoke.

She was most likely one of the most beautiful androids to hang out at the House. Top-quality white simu-skin, a mininal size bikini of blue protective plates, a tank top and a pair of shorts. Cherry on the sundae: a tiny pair of removable wings on her back, just for the cuteness factor.

Wisco pulled a seat from another table and let her sit down. In the meantime, the owner had served the drinks.

Shrike leaned over the table and motionned Yndo, Tamica and Wisco to lean forward as well.

"You guys will love it." She said. "Each one of you give me a piece of gum and I'll spit out the new fact on the block."

Yndo grumbled, but paid the price anyways.

"Thank you!" Shrike smiled and began chewing. "Okay, you two saw the girl who went in the cubicle two minutes ago? The one with fair skin and lavender hair? Short but pointed ears, new to the House, definitely an engineered newman by the looks. And to top it off, lean closer my friends..."

B-1 could see Shrike closing a fist, extending the index finger, and slowly pointing it up and up, while mouthing some phrase over to her two male comrades. Wisco turned away in disgust. Yndo and Tamica, however, were grinning.

"So, what's the deal?" The white android asked.

"She's bi." Tamica replied. Everyone except B-1 erupted in an uncontrollable fit of laughter. It was needless to say that B was not following.

Gabrielle decided to lean over the table.

"Guys, I'm bringing you some great news. Know the guy you sold the energy cylinders to? He got into a car accident. Dead! Never going to rattle anything out to the police if it ever happens that we screwed the hell out of him."

"YUS!!!"

"Chip Group, comin' through!" Gabrielle said back.

"Chip Group!" The others yelled; their black market business name. There may be the Blue Dragons, probably somewhere on the east side of Pioneer II, some gang of punks called the Bullet Heads, even closer to the House maybe a good number of people who were part of the Dog Pound, but the Chip Group was the best in the west, and the ones who were part of it dared anyone to prove otherwise. Of course, the others did. Black market always was a speed fight. Who found find the junk first, repair it, and sell it in the fastest time. To add some spice, who was the best in designing new, innovative, and overly illegal systems for hunters and androids. The head position changed each week. It was the fun of black market dealing. Competition was tough, and just too fun to give up.

Over the years, the Chip Group would keep on doing its business. Other gangs and groups may get some of their members caught, but no one in the Chip Group ever got taken away by the cops. And that was a good thing.

"By the way," Yndo said. "What will happen when we reach Ragol? We can't just carry the House of God down on the planet can we?"

"Ship's gonna land, city's gonna deploy." Shurikane simply replied.

"Okay, but what if something wrong happens at Ragol?"

"What do you think might go wrong?..."

*     *     *     *     *

Shrike could only remember that long enumeration of possibilities that Yndo had told her three years ago. And one of them happened to come true. Everything had blown up.

She was looking at the ceiling of her appartment, lying on a couch, while all over the ship, people ran around in panic, demanding information.

She looked both better and worse than during the peak years of the House. Her original green orbs had been replaced by expensive balls simulating human eyes. Her metal skirt had lengthened to reach the ankles, and she found more than enough money to install an RPM Override switch on her photon chainsaw. Best of all, she had gotten herself a brand new car from a black market contact working for the industry. Outside the apartment, nicely hidden, was a shining black Kasieri Wildsider T-5 Coupé.

She sat up, and reached for her saw.

"Gabrielle, let's get moving!"

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